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June 23, 2014

“The Brain Science of Web Marketing” Will Blow Your Mind

iStock_000034197646Small“It’s been called persuasion research, cognitive bias research, social psychology and lots of other things,” said Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director of web design firm Orbit Media. “But I call it neuromarketing—the science of how messages interact with the brain to effect behavior.”

During his June 10 Chicago Interactive Design & Development Meetup group presentation hosted by WunderLand, Crestodina said, “If Orbit built cars, I’d be a Driver’s Ed teacher.”

Here are Crestodina’s rules of the road for employing cognitive biases to increase conversion rates with your web content.

1. Make every other decision seem weird.

Crestodina named social proof as perhaps the most potent factor in influencing behavior, citing social philosopher Eric Hoffer: “When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.”

Our job is to give people the reassurance that they’re making the right decision, with:

  • Testimonials. But not a testimonials page. Instead, sprinkle testimonials throughout the service pages of your site, where traffic is higher.
  • Endorsements, a.k.a. the Halo Effect.
  • A “trust box” with awards, certifications and press mentions.
  • Numbers of happy customers. Think about McDonald’s billions and billions served.
  • A call to conform. Don’t just ask visitors to sign up—ask them to join the thousands of others who already have.

2. Put purchase decisions in context.

Ever wonder why so many websites offer products in distinct price tiers? Crestodina pointed to a Williams-Sonoma screen. “The $380 bread maker sells the $235 model,” he said. “Who knows if they even sell any of the $380 model? That’s there to make $235 seem like a reasonable price.”

But when you’re offering several similarly-priced options, don’t show them all. In one example, showing just the top seller produced a 233% higher conversion rate.

3. Get your FOMO working.

Why do people flock to Black Friday door-buster sales?

“On MRIs, the loss of opportunity looks just like physical pain,” said Crestodina. “People just hate to miss these deals, because the pain of loss is stronger than the pleasure of gain.”

To take advantage of people’s hard-wired FOMO—Fear Of Missing Out—he recommended we:

  • Create scarcity. While supplies last!
  • Create urgency. Time is running out!
  • Early bird prices and countdown clocks. Save money! Act now!
  • Use the language of loss. Instead of “Protect your data,” say “Don’t lose your data.”

4. Draw bull’s-eyes for visitors’ eyes.

Crestodina cited eye-tracking studies to illustrate some ways to get visitors to look where you want them to look, read what you want them to read, and do what you want them to do.

  • Action colors. It doesn’t matter which colors you choose, as long as your key buttons and links—like LEARN MORE and REQUEST APPOINTMENT—stand out.
  • Show people looking at your text. Whenever a screen shows a person looking in the direction of text, the text attracts more eyeballs and gets read more often. Once you know this trick, you’ll notice how it’s used everywhere!
  • Choose a credible font. Yes, a credible font. The same text is found far more believable in Baskerville than in Comic Sans—one more reason to hate Comic Sans.

“Some of these techniques may feel creepy,” said Crestodina. “But they’re just taking advantage of what’s programmed into the human brain. And 100% of your customers have brains.”

Check out Andy's presentation below:

You can view the entire presentation on YouTube here.

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